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A study calls for preventing threats to cetaceans in the Mediterranean

A study calls for preventing threats to cetaceans in the Mediterranean

A group of scientists from United Kingdom and Israel highlights in a study released this Tuesday the threats they face Whales and dolphins in it Mediterranean and calls for measures to protect these cetaceans.

Experts from the environmental organization Greenpeace affiliated with the English university of Exeter and the Israeli university of Haifa carried out a visual and acoustic analysis off the coast of Israel, in the eastern Mediterranean, between April and May 2022, which allowed them to trace the routes of several species.

The researchers point out that the route of some 2,800 kilometers taken by a young sperm whale – known as Kim, Elia or Onda by different scientific groups – highlights the risks they face in one of the most traveled and populated seas in the world.

The article, published in the journal ‘Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems’, documents for the first time the movement of populations of beaked whales, bottlenose dolphins and whales in the eastern Mediterranean.

The distance traveled by the young sperm whale – calculated based on sighting locations – leads one to think that it is “the longest recorded movement of a sperm whale in the Mediterranean” and, according to the authors, “It means that the whale made a dangerous journey.”

The researchers say their findings “demonstrate the need to apply specific protection in key locations”, as alert mechanisms that allow managing human activity in order to prevent damage to these species.

“Marine life in the Mediterranean faces numerous threats, from fishing and pollution to noise and ship strikes,” says Kirsten Thompson of the Greenpeace Research Laboratory at the University of Exeter.

The young whale in particular must have passed through the Sicily Channel or the Strait of Messina, both of which are “extremely busy, noisy and potentially dangerous for a deep-diving sperm whale”he adds.

According to this specialist, “The fact that these whales pass through narrow, shallow seas means that listening devices could be installed at those points to protect them.”

“This could create a warning system to avoid collisions with ships,” maintains.

In their research off the Israeli coast, the authors acoustically detected sperm whales (three encounters), Cuvier’s beaked whales (one encounter), bottlenose dolphins (one encounter), and unidentified dolphinids (17 encounters).

The sperm whales were looking for food about 10 kilometers from Haifa, between 370 and 1,220 meters deep, and the social vocalizations (codas) corresponded to the Mediterranean dialect, they point out in the article.

The young sperm whale had previously been detected in the Ligurian Sea, which, in their opinion, indicates that it made a movement from west to east of approximately 2,800 kilometers.

Experts warn that more data is needed on the densities of these deep-sea species and an assessment of the threats they face in general in the Levantine basin, in order to protect them more effectively.

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Source: Gestion

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